People are continuously examining your behavior and modeling perceptions about your personality, competency and commitment. The set of qualities and characteristics that represent perceptions of you in business sphere shape your professional image, which builds or ruins your success and potential achievements. Your appearance is the inseparable part of your professional image. It strongly contributes to the formation of people’s impression of you. Choosing the right dress code is one of the most important factors determining each person’s success.
Awareness of the main dress codes will give you the power to represent yourself at your best image in each place or event. Here are descriptions of four dress codes that each success-driven person should know and consider:
In a formal business environment, the standard of dressing is a suit of black, navy, dark grey, dark brown colors.
Men should wear trousers that always match the jacket with the color and the material. Well pressed shirts of white, ivory, soft blue, champagne, beige colors are acceptable. A tie with a conservative pattern and color should just touch the top of your belt buckle. Leather shoes that match your belt and are black or brown (so that they are darker than your suit) will complete your professional look.
Women may wear a two-piece pant suit or a skirt suit. Long-sleeved jacket with the same color family of your skirt or pants is welcomed. The mid-point of the back of your shoe should be at the same level as the hem of pant leg. And remember that pants should never be tight fitting. You can wear skirts that should hit below, at, or just above the knee. Choose a shoe color that speaks with your suit and handbag. Do not wear open-toe shoes and stiletto heels. Classic jewelry will emphasize your personality and style. Just take into consideration that jewelry should not be noisy (no metal bangle bracelets) or too large.
With business casual attire you are given the freedom to express your style and be a lot less formal. You can replace the traditional business suits with blouses and pants. These makes business casual more comfortable and gives you the chance to express your style preferences.
Men can wear a sweater or a nice collared shirt without a tie. Polo shirts can be a great option for the business casual style, as long as they are worn with nice slacks. A blazer or sweater can be added in cold weather. You can choose dark slacks, chinos or khaki. However, jeans are unacceptable in this category and shirts should always be tucked in. Leather belt and leather shoes are expected. You should never wear athletic shoes.
Women are free to wear silky blouses, polo shirts, cardigans, sweaters, lightweight jackets and blazers. You can experiment with colors, textures and prints as long as you retain a professional feel. Slacks worn in the business professional environment are welcome here. A colorful skirt paired with neutrals on top is always a great option. Anyway avoid wearing short skirts. Heels or flats are still great, but now you have the opportunity to play around with colors. Here you can enjoy the freedom to experiment with accessories and complete your look with belts, watches, scarves, necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Take advantage of this.
Smart casual gives more room for imagination than business casual. It does not require very formal work attire. The smart casual style gives you the freedom to express your unique taste in fashion experimenting with your favorite clothing pieces and colors. It can be worn in non-formal work environment and meetings where, anyway, you still need to look professional.
Men can choose jackets or blazers, cardigans or jumpers, long sleeved shirts, polo or tennis shirts and experiment with colors to add uniqueness. Chinos and smart looking jeans are a perfect option. Instead of the office leather shoes choose something less formal. The best options to choose are loafers.
Women may demonstrate their personal style by choosing dressier blouses, button down shirts, knitwear and knit tops. Feel free to add colorful, sparkling and very formal tops to jeans or a denim skirt. Think dressy shoes, either flat or heeled. Oxfords, sandals, pumps, boots, booties, ballet flats will all do in this case: just avoid a very casual shoe style. A unique handbag and jewelry will emphasize your original style.
This attire is appropriate for dinner receptions at evenings. There is no fixed, official dress code in the frames of cocktail events. It is still formal but leaves more room to creativity. The details of the dress code vary and should be mentioned in the invitation.
Men can experiment with suit color depending on the event formality. Shirt in a muted color, tie or necktie in subtle patterns or plains and classic shoes are required. While choosing your pocket square, you should follow the same rules as when choosing your tie: if your general look has patterns, then consider a clear-cut style, but think about a nattier design if your shirt and suit are in neutral tones. In this dress code men can choose accessories such as elegant cuff links that will add a little more interest to their looks.
Women may choose a stylish cocktail dress. Dresses that are a little above, at or below the knee are involved in cocktail attire. Dresses can vary from flashy and strapless designs to a more traditional little black dress. This gives a chance to choose a look you are more comfortable with. Again, the context of the event is important, and it is better to be a little more formal than to be too showy. Put emphasis on being elegant. You can choose stylish accessories and unique hairstyles.
Choosing the right dress code for any environment will significantly contribute to forming your brilliant professional image and building your way up to greater success. Good luck!
Photo courtesy of Shape Magazine, Marie Claire